Sunday, 16 October 2005

Mousetrap - 23

Erudite Timepass
Rum & Monkey’s Personality Tests and Web Toys
Yes, I know, there are plenty of sites that will help you decide which Bored Housewife you are, or whatever that show is called. This one’s more, shall we say, intelligent. More to the point, it gives you credit for some discernment. The options you got to choose from, for instance, are usually genuinely funny in their own right. And the subjects? Here’s a sampler. “Which historical lunatic are you?” “Which horrible affliction are you?” And the games: The Insulting Name Generator. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Donation System. Still not your cuppa? Eliminate the “widgets” bit of the URL, and you get to read some well-written essays and articles.

That’s all, Filks,,
That’s not a mistyped word. Though it was, originally. Let me explain. In the ’50s, chap called Lee Jacobs (so the legend goes) wrote a paper, “The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Folk Music.” Only he misspelled “folk.” The article never saw print, but the story of the typo spread. And “Filk” was adopted by SciFi fandom to refer to songs where new words, with a SciFi theme, were written to old songs. It grew to embrace completely original songs as well. The best definition is the name of an album: Folk Songs for Folk Who Ain’t Even Been Born Yet. At sites like these, you can buy the music (yes, there are commercially available releases), find out about conventions, meet other filkers, etc. Beam me up before you go-go.

Don’t cut yourself
Extreme Shaving
After we featured Extreme Ironing a few weeks ago, a reader pointed us to this site. It involves shaving in strange places. Um, let me rephrase. Strange locations. While rock-climbing, for instance, or in a department store (while shopping, natch). Then get yourself photographed. Send it in and if they use it, you could win £10 / US$15 in online shopping vouchers. Which you’ll get to spend only at, a commercial site.

My Favorite Word
Tell the world what your favourite word is, though you’ll have to remember to type out the URL spelled in American. “Money” was taken, though “food” and a certain three-letter word weren’t, so I might just go back and send one in. Yes, I’m a very basic kinda guy. The people behind the site plan to turn all this into a book, and they say nothing about sharing the royalties, so you may choose not to contribute, But browse through the entries, from “Abstemiously” (!) to “Zaftig” (which means “full and shapely,” or as a friend put it, “fat in a nice way.”). And no, I’m not going to explain the title above this paragraph. Go look it up.


Blog of the week

The only Esc
Blog of Death
You like spending time with the obit section? This site’s for you. It faithfully lists the passing of well known folk, mainly from the USA – though it has been known to feature departures from other parts of the world as well. But it’s not just the fact of their shuffling off the mortal coil it focuses on. There are short obituaries, a link or two, and the site invites you to leave a tribute in the comments section.

Special Note: If you’re looking for information on how to help the victims of last weekend’s devastating quake, please see South Asia Quake Help

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 16th October, 2005.

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